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Parents Outraged Over "Box" For Son
April 2, 2004

CALGARY, ALBERTA CANADA--A Calgary couple are demanding that a substitute teacher and classroom aide formally apologize to their son for using a cardboard enclosure to box him in as a disciplinary measure.

Terry and Betty Shawchuck claim that two cardboard tri-folds were pulled together to surround their 16-year-old son, Adam, who has Down syndrome and is deaf, in his St. Helena Junior High classroom. The "box" made it impossible for him to see out or to use sign language to let others know he needed to use the restroom, the parents said.

A teacher's aide told them that Adam was being disciplined for "uncooperative behavior".

The parents demanded an apology for the incident they said occurred on March 1.

They did receive an apology from the principal, and from the regular teacher, who was not present that day.

What they really want is for the substitute teacher and teacher's aide to apologize directly to their son.

"We believe that some day, somehow . . . these people are going to walk into a room and say sorry to our son," explained Mr. Shawchuck.

According to the Shawchucks, the school has arranged for the apology they requested, but with just one catch: Adam's parents would not be allowed to be there at the time.

The couple have since pulled Adam from the school.

After an initial review of the situation, the Catholic School Board responded by saying said the cardboard partitions are called "focus centres", and are often used in special education classes to calm students or to keep them from becoming distracted.

"Time out might have a couple of different looks to it," said Judy MacKay, superintendent of instruction, who would not comment on the specifics of the Shawchuck case.

Related articles:
'It could have been settled in one day' (Calgary Herald)
"School board responds to complaint about boy in box" (CBC News)


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